Published: 15/11/2017
ISBN: 9781788039215
Format: Paperback

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A Passion for Records
Walter Rye (1843-1929), topographer, athlete and Norfolk's champion
by Christopher Kitching

A London solicitor by profession, Walter Rye had three spare-time passions: physical exercise, record-searching, and a devotion to his ancestral county of Norfolk.

Having in his youth set national athletics records and achieved fame as the founder of Thames Hare and Hounds and 'Father of English paper-chasing', he remained influential in sporting circles for over three decades. He was also a competitive cyclist and archer, a keen tricyclist, and an enthusiastic sailor on Norfolk's rivers and Broads.

In later life he liked to describe himself as a 'topographer'. His pioneering searches in records and archives showed a whole generation how to apply them to the study of genealogy and local history. Many of his 80 books are in print today and can still be read with enjoyment, although as this study shows they should now also be read with caution, in the light of advances in scholarship and editorial methods since his time.

He retired to Norwich in 1900, having already established his credentials as doyen of Norfolk's antiquaries, a keen preserver of historic buildings, and a champion of public rights of access to the Broads. Then, without ever having held high elected office, he was asked to stand in 1908-09 as Mayor of Norwich, the last person to hold that title before the city achieved its Lord Mayoralty.

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